The former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, announced a new philanthropic project on Monday aimed at investing and empowering the country’s cities. The $200 million program, called the American Cities Initiative, will help mayors push for policies that deal with climate change, gun violence, public health and immigration. As the New York Times reported, a major component of Bloomberg’s project will be a “Mayors Challenge,” which will award six-and seven-figure grants to mayors who draft interesting policy proposals.
Last month, after President Trump announced his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, Bloomberg helped assemble an alliance of American cities and private companies to support participation in the accord. He also offered to personally pay for the American share of a United Nations budget to make the deal happen. In an interview with the Times, Bloomberg said the cities initiative will award cities for addressing similarly impactful issues.
“You can argue that if people in cities use less energy, the coal-fired power plants outside the cities would pollute the air less,” Bloomberg said. “You can make the case that immigration is a city issue, because that’s where a lot of people live and work.”
Bloomberg Philanthropies plan on investing more than $200 million over the next three years through grants, providing technical expertise and creating opportunities for city leaders to discuss best practices. The first part of the American Cities Initiative is the 2017 Mayors Challenge, a national innovation competition. Every city with at least 30,000 residents can participate and experts will visit the first 300 cities that sign up for the challenge for training sessions.
The group will award $100,000 to 35 cities to test and refine their proposals. Then, five winners will be selected based on the idea’s solution to an urgent problem, the potential for impact and successful implementation and its potential to spread to other cities. One city will win the grand prize of $5 million and four others will receive implementation awards. Learn more details about the competition here.
Bloomberg told the Times that cities sometimes must “replace Washington, and in some cases, state governments, to provide services.” He added: “It’s really efficiency in government, how you marshal resources and how you deal with the public, explain to them, bring them along.”
[Via NY Times]
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